Louis Zukofsky's "Mantis"
Louis Zukofsky's "Mantis"  stories

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##Mantis Mantis! praying mantis! since your wings’ leaves
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Louis Zukofsky's "Mantis"

by ________


Mantis! praying mantis! since your wings’ leaves

And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor

Beg—”look, take it up” (thoughts’ torsion) ! “save it! ”

I who can’t bear to look, cannot touch,—You—

You can—but no one sees you steadying lost

In the cars’ drafts on the lit subway stone.

Praying mantis, what wind-up brought you, stone

On which you sometimes prop, prey among leaves

(Is it love’s food your raised stomach prays?) , lost

Here, stone holds only seats on which the poor

Ride, who rising from the news may trample you —

The shop’s crowds a jam with no flies in it.

Even the newsboy who now sees knows it

No use, papers make money, makes stone, stone,

Banks, “it is harmless,” he says moving on—You?

Where will he put you? There are no safe leaves

To put you back in here, here’s news! too poor

Like all the separate poor to save the lost.

Don’t light on my chest, mantis! do—you’re lost,

Let the poor laugh at my fright, then see it:

My shame and theirs, you whom old Europe’s poor

Call spectre, strawberry, by turns; a stone—

You point—they say—you lead lost children—leaves

Close in the paths men leave, saved, safe with you.

Killed by thorns (once men), who now will save you

Mantis? what male love bring a fly, be lost

Within your mouth, prophetess, harmless to leaves

And hands, faked flower, —the myth: is dead, bones, it

Was assembled, apes wing in wind: On stone

Mantis, you will die, touch, beg, of the poor.

Android, loving beggar, dive to the poor

As your love would even without head to you,

Graze like machined wheels, green from off this stone

And preying on each terrified chest, lost

Say, I am old as the globe, the moon, it

Is my old shoe, yours, be free as the leaves.

Fly, mantis, on the poor, arise like leaves

The armies of the poor, strength: stone on stone

And build the new world in your eyes, Save it!

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